Collards are leafy green vegetables that belong to the same family that includes cabbage, kale, and broccoli. While they share the same botanical name as kale, Brassica oleracea, and some resemblance, they have their own distinctive qualities. Like kale, collards are one of the non-head forming members of the Brassica family. Collards' unique appearance features dark blue green leaves that are smooth in texture and relatively broad. They lack the frilled edges that are so distinctive to their cousin kale.
Long a staple of the Southern United States, collard greens, unlike their cousins kale and mustard greens, have a very mild, almost smoky flavor.
Like kale, cauliflower and broccoli, collards are descendents of the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have been consumed as food since prehistoric times and to have originated in Asia Minor. From there it spread into Europe, being introduced by groups of Celtic wanderers around 600 B.C. Collards have been cultivated since the times of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. While collards may have been introduced into the United States before, the first mention of collard greens dates back to the late 17th century. Collards are an integral food in traditional southern American cuisine.
Place collard greens in a plastic bag, removing as much of the air from the bag as possible. Store in the refrigerator where they should keep fresh for about five to seven days.
Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and calcium.. In addition, collard greens are a very good source of vitamin B1, vitamin 6, and iron. They are also a good source of vitamin E, copper, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B5, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, niacin, vitamin B1, and potassium.
Collard Greens with Bacon
- 2 bunches collard greens, stemmed
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 3 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 cup homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
- STEP 1
Working in batches, stack greens; cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick strips. Gather strips; cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces. Transfer to a large bowl of cold water; swish to remove grit. Transfer greens to a colander using a slotted spoon; let drain. Repeat until greens are free of grit.
- STEP 2
Heat oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bacon; cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add greens; cook, stirring, until greens begin to wilt and are reduced in volume.
- STEP 3
Raise heat to high; add vinegar. Cook, scraping up brown bits from bottom of skillet, until vinegar has evaporated, about 1 minute.
- STEP 4
Add stock; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, until greens are just tender, 12 to 14 minutes. If making ahead, refrigerate, covered; reheat over low heat.
Scrambled Tofu with Collards and Turmeric
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 3 collard green leaves, stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 8 ounces firm tofu (preferably organic), drained and crumbled (Can also substitute scrambled eggs)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- STEP 1
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic, onion, turmeric, and ginger until vegetables are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in collard greens and 2 tablespoons water and cook until greens are bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
- STEP 2
Add crumbled tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Braised Collards with Tomatoes (Southern-style)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 1/2 pounds collard greens, stems discarded and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- Cooked rice, for serving
Cooking greens with a bit of healthy fat like olive oil may help the body absorb certain nutrients.
- STEP 1
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add greens, cover, and cook until mostly wilted, about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until completely wilted, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- STEP 2
Add tomatoes, breaking them apart as you go. Add ham hock and 3 cups water and bring to a boil; reduce to a medium simmer. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender and ham separates from bone, about 2 1/2 hours, adding more water if needed.
- STEP 3
Remove ham from pot and let rest until cool enough to handle. Discard skin and bone; dice meat. Return ham to pot; stir in beans. Season with salt and pepper. Serve collards with rice.